Paul Ryan hopes Czechs will send Russian hacker to America

By KAREL JANICEKFeaturesAssociated Press

The speaker of U.S. House of Representatives said he hoped a Russian man who faces charges of hacking computers at LinkedIn, Dropbox and other American companies will be eventually extradited to the United States.

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But it is not yet clear when and how the case over the alleged hacker that pits the U.S. against Russia will be solved by Czech authorities.

The Czechs arrested Yevgeniy Nikulin in Prague in cooperation with the FBI in October 2016. He is accused by U.S. prosecutors of penetrating computers at Silicon Valley firms in 2012 and they want him extradited to face trial.

Moscow also wants him extradited on a separate charge of internet theft in 2009.

Both countries submitted their extradition requests on the same date.

Russian authorities previously had said they would do all they could to prevent his extradition to U.S.

House Speaker Paul Ryan told reporters during his visit to the Czech capital Tuesday that under the Czech extradition law "we have every reason to believe and expect that Mr. Nikulin will be extradited to America."

"The United States has the case to prevail on having him extradited, whether it's the severity of the crime, which is clearly on the side of U.S., or the timing of the request for the extradition," Ryan said.

Czech courts previously ruled both extradition requests meet the necessary legal conditions, leaving the decision to Justice Minister Robert Pelikan.

But after a last-ditch complaint with the country's Constitutional Court filed by Nikulin, the minister cannot decide until the court rules. It is not clear when that could happen.

Nikulin denies he's a hacker. His defense attorney claimed his case was politically motivated in the U.S.

In a further complication, Pelikan recently said in Parliament that the Czech Republic's pro-Russian President Milos Zeman "repeatedly" asked him to allow Nikulin's extradition to Russia. Zeman didn't comment.

Ryan was not scheduled to meet Zeman during his private trip with his family to the Czech Republic. But he met Prime Minister Andrej Babis and gave speeches in both chambers of the Czech Parliament.